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2023 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards: Voting Open Now!

Something extraordinary happened in the Rockies/Yankees game on Sunday. And, no, it wasn't that a Yankees game went on without a single mention of Derek Jeter – like that could ever happen. Thanks to BPro subscriber adambennett for reminding me about this incredibly interesting moment.

In the fourth inning of the game, Troy Tulowitzki laced a single off of C.C. Sabathia and over the head of Alex Rodriguez. The ball was fielded cleanly and the play ended as you would expect it, but there was something odd about the play. The announcers thought that Tulowitzki had broken his bat, but it seemed to be in one piece. Watching the replay provided the answer.


Tulowitzki hit the ball twice in one swing. The initial contact was made just above Tulowitzki's hand, causing the ball to head off in the direction of first base (and maybe foul). Tulo's swing wasn't complete, though. As he followed through, the ball then hit off the thick part of the bat. It was this contact that redirected the ball to the third base side of the field and over Rodriguez's head for a nice base hit.

After watching that Bugs Bunny-esque hit, I can't help but feel like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This means something. This is important.

Has this ever happened before? I have to imagine it has. With the millions of swings that ballplayers have had over the last 150 years, this phenomenon has to have happened before. Just like when someone dropped his bat on the way to first base but it somehow landed standing perfectly upright, the law of averages says that this must have happened.

I just can't remember ever hearing of such a thing before. And especially not against major league competition. Has anyone here ever heard of such a thing?

Thank you for reading

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briankopec
6/29
I remember Tony Pena doing it sometime in the mid 80's. I don't remember who the opponent was. I think the opposing manager argued that Pena should be out for hitting the ball twice, but the umpire didn't notice it. Although we didn't have the HD-slo-mo cameras back then, it was clear that he had hit the ball twice on replay. Maybe someone can confirm that it wasn't just a dream. Wish I knew the opponent/date.
craigburley
6/29
Rule 6.03(h) indicates that this should have been ruled a foul ball, though of course you'd never fault an umpire for not seeing the double contact.
mikefast
6/30
Here's the text of the rule:
http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2011/Official_Baseball_Rules.pdf

6.05 A batter is out when—

(h) After hitting or bunting a fair ball, his bat hits the ball a second time in fair territory. The ball is dead and no runners may advance. If the batter-runner drops his bat and the ball rolls against the bat in fair territory and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, the ball is alive and in play. If the batter is in a legal position in the batter’s box, see Rule 6.03, and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, a batted ball that strikes the batter or his bat shall be ruled a foul ball;

Rule 6.05(h) Comment: If a bat breaks and part of it is in fair territory and is hit by a batted ball or
part of it hits a runner or fielder, play shall continue and no interference called. If batted ball hits part of
a broken bat in foul territory, it is a foul ball.
If a whole bat is thrown into fair territory and interferes with a defensive player attempting to make
a play, interference shall be called, whether intentional or not.
In cases where the batting helmet is accidentally hit with a batted ball on or over fair territory or a thrown ball, the ball remains in play the same as if it has not hit the helmet.
If a batted ball strikes a batting helmet or any other object foreign to the natural ground while on foul territory, it is a foul ball and the ball is dead.
If, in the umpire’s judgment, there is intent on the part of a baserunner to interfere with a batted or thrown ball by dropping the helmet or throwing it at the ball, then the runner would be out, the ball dead and runners would return to last base legally touched.
fgreenagel2
6/30
Is it against the rules to hit the ball twice during the same swing? If so, why was that rule put in place (and when)?
crperry13
6/30
This question indicates to me that it's probably happened before.
MichavdB
6/30
That rule is mostly to avoid people taking a second swing at a hit ball (for instance on a ball hit into the ground) and I was always told it was to prevent injury to fielders from that second swing.